Thanks to this brief heads-up on the NBC5 Web site, I just spent the last little while researching Ben Gold, the local man set to be inducted into the brand-spankin'-new International Video Game Hall of Fame in Ottumwa, Iowa, on August 7. Hard to believe I didn't know anything about Gold till now: He was a member of the very same U.S National Video Game Team in 1983 that featured Billy Mitchell, star of the Donkey Kong doc The King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters, which sits firmly among My Favorite 12 Movies of All Time (though Gold has some issues with it).
And, way back when, Gold was featured on That's Incredible, profiled in the Dallas Times Herald and written up in a massive Life magazine spread on the National Video Game Team. More recently he showed up in the doc Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade -- and, as Gold mentioned when we spoke moments ago, he was on Bob Sturm and Dan McDowell's Ticket show last Friday.
Gold says he's known since March or April that he was being inducted into the Hall of Fame, but it became official about a month ago. He's among an estimable debut class -- not only is he among such famous players as Mitchell and rival Steve Wiebe, but also console creator Ralph Baer and Atari creator Nolan Bushnell. And though he's longtime pals with the hall's organizers, Gold is honored to be included amongst the class.
"In 1983, when I was in Life magazine, for a six to 12-month period, I was 'famous,'" he says. "I got phone calls from time to time from the media, and when I went to video-game functions there was a lot of interest. And then when video games became less popular, there was almost nothing for 20 years. Then, in 2005, there was a rebirth. I guess it was when competitive video-gaming became a big deal ,and that's when Chasing Ghosts happened, in '05 they came to Dallas, And then in '07 it premiered at Sundance, and then King of King came out. Chasing Ghosts fizzled, and King of Kong made Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe household names. But now, all of the sudden, with the hall of fame, I started getting a lot of inquiries, which is weird."
Which is why Gold just posted several flashbacks to YouTube, including footage from his That's Incredible and PM Magazine appearances. Those are on the other side. I'll have more with Gold before his trip to Iowa. We're grabbing a beer in a couple of days. And we might just play some Stargate. Because the HR rep says he doesn't play much these days, but he's "still reasonably good at Millipede."